University leader's job under threat

By Anna Claridge

The Press

August 19, 2003


THE position of Canterbury University Vice-Chancellor Roy Sharp will be reviewed after a

complaint over his handling of what some regard as a book-burning scandal.

History lecturer Thomas Fudge has made a formal complaint against Professor Sharp,

claiming he mismanaged the issue and suppressed academic freedom.

University spokesman Jeff Field said last night that Chancellor Robin Mann had ordered the

vice-chancellor's employment committee to review Professor Sharp's position.

The committee would report back to a full university council meeting on

Wednesday next week.

Dr Fudge claims Professor Sharp gave "false and misleading" statements to the media, and

wilfully suppressed academic freedom.

In May, the university ordered copies of the history department's journal, History Now, which

contained a controversial article by Dr Fudge, to be destroyed.

Last week Dr Fudge wrote to the university council with three complaints

over the issue.

He said the Vice-Chancellor had badly mismanaged the controversy "to the extent of bringing

serious and sustained disrepute on the university" and had behaved in an inconsistent manner.

Dr Fudge said his academic freedom had been violated and he had been directed not to

comment on the matter in lectures.

The two-page letter, detailing Dr Fudge's concerns, also suggested council members should

consider Professor Sharp's "continuation as Vice-Chancellor"

The article revisited the firestorm that surrounded the 1993 Masters thesis of former Canterbury

student Joel Hayward, which questioned the validity of Holocaust history. The thesis:

Questioned whether Hitler personally ordered the physical extermination of the Jews.

Questioned whether gas chambers were used systematically to murder Jews in

European concentration camps.

Suggested that while millions of Jews had died at the hands of the Nazis, it was

impossible to know how many.

Dr Fudge, who lectures on medieval religious dissent and witch-hunting, explored what

for Hayward became a career-ending controversy.

He revealed in the article that Dr Hayward had been harassed and had received death threats

against his children. Dr Hayward suffered an emotional breakdown, and in June last year left

his teaching post at Massey University.

Dr Fudge's article, The Fate of Joel Hayward in New Zealand Hands: From Holocaust

Historian to Holocaust? was pulled from the magazine in May this year.

The man behind the controversy, Joel Hayward, said yesterday he felt it was inappropriate to

comment, and the matter was best dealt with by the council.

"But what I would say is that Dr Fudge is a great asset to the university and I would hate

to see him leave as he has promised to do.

"It will be the students who suffer."




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